About

The process for adults to enter the Catholic Church is known as “RCIA,” short for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. RCIA is a process by which non-baptized adults are formally welcomed into the Catholic Church through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. The process requires individual discernment, as well as ritualized stages of gradual conversion within the community of the faithful. RCIA follows an ancient practice of the Church, which was restored by the Second Vatican Council after a period of disuse.

RCIA is open to all unbaptized persons desiring to study Roman Catholic beliefs and practices. It is also open to those individuals who have been baptized in another Christian denomination and who wish to join the Catholic Church.


Under the guidance of Fr. Patrick Fiorillo and a team of clergy and lay parishioners, the catechumens and candidates are accompanied on their journey to the Catholic faith. The program starts in September 2018 and culminates at the Easter Vigil on the evening of April 20, 2019. RCIA meetings take place most Saturday evenings during the Academic Year in the Harvard Catholic Center at St. Paul’s.

Weekly Schedule

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Mass


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Prayer, Social Time,
and Snacks

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Weekly Instruction
(Catechesis)

Calendar

FAQ

Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is the process by which adults are initiated into the Catholic Church through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. RCIA is not a class in Catholicism, but rather a process through which individual persons participate in ritualized stages of gradual conversion, all within the community of the faithful. The primary focus of the process is the individual’s formation, over time, of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The RCIA process follows an ancient practice of the Church, restored by the Second Vatican Council after a period of disuse, and is the normal way that adults prepare for baptism. In 1974, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults was formally approved for use in the United States.
The RCIA process is open to all individuals who are unbaptized and who express a desire to be baptized in the Catholic Church and/or to study Catholic Christian beliefs and practices. The program is also open to those who have been baptized in another Christian denomination and who wish to join the Catholic Church. Those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church but have not yet received the Sacraments of Penance, Communion and Confirmation are also welcome to participate.
The Catholic Church recognizes most Christian baptisms. As such, persons baptized in Christian Churches are still welcome to join the Catholic Faith through the RCIA process. Persons who were previously baptized in a Christian Church and wish to enter the Catholic Church through RCIA will receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
A catechumen is an unbaptized person who has never been officially initiated into a church community. A catechumen experiences gradual conversion, marked by study, prayer and rites at Mass, within RCIA. Catechumens receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
A candidate is a previously-baptized person over the age of 18, who desires to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. Candidates receive formation alongside catechumens, but do not undergo additional preparation for baptism. Candidates receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. Those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church but have not yet received the Sacraments of Penance, Communion and Confirmation are also welcome to participate.
An offering of $50 is requested, though not obligatory, for materials and other expenses.
Participants are not required to purchase anything, as all needed materials are provided during the RCIA sessions. Participants may wish to consult the Resources section of the website for additional helpful aides.
All participants in RCIA are expected to attend Saturday meetings, which begin with 5:00 p.m. parish Mass and end at 7:15 p.m. In addition, each RCIA participant is encouraged to spend some time each week in prayer.
Participants are not obligated to become members of the Catholic Church. Prayer, discernment, and reflection are part of the RCIA experience. Of course, participants may choose not to join the Catholic faith or to join at a later RCIA cycle. In addition, participants will be encouraged to ask questions and dialogue with the material. Everything shared during the sessions will be treated with confidentiality and respect.
Saturday sessions begin at 5:00 p.m. with Holy Mass and end at 7:15 p.m. For more information, please consult the Schedule section of the website.
The RCIA program begins in September 2018 and continues through April 2019. For more information, please consult the Schedule section of the website.
Usually, yes. Please contact the RCIA coordinator to inquire further.
Sessions are held in the Harvard Catholic Center at Saint Paul Parish, 29 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
Yes, each RCIA candidate needs a sponsor. Jesus taught his disciples the importance of community, so it is important that we walk this faith journey together, with practicing Catholics who can help us share in and understand our experience. If you do not have a sponsor, the RCIA team is happy to find one for you by matching you with a member of the Parish
A sponsor is a confirmed and practicing Catholic who is a spiritual companion and support on the journey to the Catholic Church, and who serves as a mentor in the Christian life.
A great deal depends on when the wedding is scheduled. Please contact the RCIA team for additional information.
No. You do not have to be Catholic to marry a Catholic in the Catholic Church. Please contact the RCIA team for additional information.
The answer to this question will depend on your particular circumstances. Please consult with the RCIA team, who can help you determine any steps that may be necessary here in order to enter the Church.

Resources

BOOKS

Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catholic Bible
Joseph Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity
Thomas Joseph White, The Light of Christ
Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity
Bishop Robert Barron, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith
Leo Trese, The Faith Explained
Saint Augustine, Confessions
Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Rome Sweet Home
Jennifer Fulwiler, Something other than God
Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness
Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain
Tom Curran, The Mass
Jeremy Driscoll, What Happens at Mass
Thomas Dubay, Fire Within
Romano Guardini, The Art of Praying
Mike Aquilina, The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Joseph Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth Trilogy
G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
Matthew Kelly, Rediscover Jesus
Saint Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul
Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
Saint John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love
Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence
The Rule of Saint Benedict
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers
Fulton J. Sheen, The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God
Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God
Saint Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul
Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
Saint John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love
Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence
The Rule of Saint Benedict
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers
Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia
Walter Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz
Michael O'Brien, Father Elijah
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Sigrid Undset, Kristen Lavransdatter
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

WEBSITES

Contact Us

If you are interested in becoming Catholic or are simply curious about the RCIA program at St. Paul's, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the RCIA coordinator at rcia[at]stpaulparish.org or Fr. Patrick Fiorillo at harvardpriest[at]gmail.com.

You can also call the parish office at 617-491-8400 and leave your name and telephone number.

We hope to see you soon!

Location

Parish of St. Paul Roman Catholic Church in Harvard Square
29 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone 617-491-8400
Website